The venn diagram that justified the creation of House of Cards showed that Netflix had big data on its side. And since then it's had a pretty good run as far as creating original content goes. Its latest series, Narcos, follows the story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and it has also been a major hit. And, in keeping with a native ad strategy that has seen it work with The New York Times to promote Orange is the New Black, The Atlantic to promote House of Cards and Wired to promote a new era of TV, it's called on The Wall St Journal's commercial content division Custom Studios to create an impressive indepth series of the economics of the cocaine trade.
- Check out Cocainenomics here (and, for more drug-related content, check out a collection of ads from more liberal times here).
According to Ad Age, "it uses reporting, video interviews with DEA agents, graphics, photos and an interactive map to tell the story of cocaine as a business. A Spanish-language version is being published next week." It's a major undertaking and, like the other projects from Netflix, it's an interesting topic. And as doubts persist over the effectiveness of digital display ads and as ad blocking continues to gain steam, branded content/native advertising is becoming increasingly appealling, both to brands and publishers (the Wall St Journal's team now numbers 37).
Advertising has long funded editorial, of course. They've just been kept separate. Now brands are very literally funding it. Some call it the 'decor of desperation', others believe it's a win-win-win if readers get some good content, publishers get some much-needed money and brands get to bask in the reflected glow. In fact, it's gone so far that Casper, a US mattress company, recently released a magazine and website called Van Winkel's that explores the science, culture and curiosities of sleep—and it hardly even mentions the brand. According to Contently, it has a very experienced five person editorial team and it "brings a new level of prestige to brand publishing".